6) American Revolutionary War - An Important Milestone In American HistoryAuthor: Marcia Mcwhite
The American Revolutionary War or American War of Independence lasted from 1775 to 1783. It was originally a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen of its former British colonies in North America however, it eventually became a worldwide war between a number of European great powers.
The war was triggered by the political ideology of the American Revolution. During the revolution colonists refused to accept the Parliament of Great Britain govern them without representation. They claimed that this violated the Rights of Englishmen. By 1775, a set of revolutionaries took control of each of the thirteen colonial governments, established the Second Continental Congress, and formulated a Continental Army. Petitions were sent to the king requesting him to intervene in the affairs of the parliament which resulted in Congress being identified as traitors proceeded by a widespread rebellion in a number of states. The Americans united and in 1776 declared their independence as a new nation: the United States of America. They claimed sovereignty and rejected any allegiance to the British monarchy.
France came to the aid of the newly formed independent nation by providing the rebels with ammunition and weapons as of 1776. France officially entered the war in early 1778, which meant the Americans were evenly matched with the military power of Britain. Spain and the Dutch Republic who were French allies also went to war with Britain over the next two years. They threatened the empire with an invasion of England and tested British military strength by leading campaigns in Europe inclusive of attacks on Minorca and Gibraltar and an notable global naval war. Spain helped to expel the British armies from West Florida and secured the American colonies' southern flank.
For the duration of the war, the British were able to use their naval superiority to their advantage by capturing and occupying the American coastal cities. However, control of the countryside which was home to 90% of the population was clearly near impossible because of the fairly small size of their land based army. With French naval assistance they were able to hold on to the Chesapeake in 1781 which lead to the surrender of a second British army in Yorktown. By 1783 the Treaty of Paris officially ended the war and established the sovereignty of the United States over the sections within what is now Canada to the north, Florida to the south, and the Mississippi River to the west.
The total loss of life resulting from the American Revolutionary War is not known. The living conditions in that period guaranteed that disease claimed the lives of more people than actual battle. During1775 and 1782, a smallpox epidemic devastated much of North America, killing more than 130,000 people. Historian Joseph Ellis suggested that Washington's decision to have his troops vaccinated against the smallpox epidemic was perhaps one of the most notable decisions during that period.
About 25,000 American Revolutionaries died during active military service. About 8,000 of these deaths were associated with direct battle; the other 17,000 deaths were from disease, including about 8,000 – 12,000 who died while prisoners of war, most in rotting prison ships in New York. The number of Revolutionaries who were left badly wounded or disabled by the war has been estimated to be anywhere between 8,500 to 25,000. The total American military casualty figure was subsequently as much as 50,000.
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